WENDELL — In a game of offensive spurts, Cleveland’s girls basketball team built just enough of an advantage to withstand the final run Friday against Corinth Holders.
Cleveland, which trailed 13-0 after first quarter but used big second and third periods to lead by 12 points at 51-39 with 4:05 remaining, hung on for a 52-50 victory in a wild Two Rivers 3A Conference contest.
A 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining by Corinth Holders’ Holly Price cut the Cleveland lead to 51-50. A foul by the host Pirates before the ball was inbounded sent Cleveland’s Miranda Hinton to the line and she made one of two free throws. A desperation shot by Corinth Holders missed at the buzzer.
After all the game’s swings, Cleveland (7-9) escaped with a tough road victory and improved to 3-0 in Two Rivers play.
“We told them in the locker room (before the game) to make plays and have the mentality that you are going to win,” Cleveland coach Chris Danehower said. “That is what we did even when we got behind 13-0. You keep playing hard, good things will happen. … This was a really good win. On the road you are just trying to grind it out and find a way to win. I was proud of them.”
Turning Point: The third quarter was the key for the Rams. A 23-point second quarter pulled Cleveland back into a 23-23 tie at halftime. The Rams knocked down four 3-pointers in the third quarter and led by eight (40-32) heading into the final period.
Highlight Reel: For Cleveland, it was 3-pointers on its first two possessions of the third period by Alliyah Sands and Hinton, setting the tone for a big period by the Rams.
For Corinth Holders, which had seen its 13-point early lead disappear and was in a 12-point hole halfway through the fourth period, it was the final four minutes of the game when the Pirates picked themselves back up and nearly pulled out the victory.
Unsung Hero: Freshman point guard Shaniya Taylor gave the Rams a lift off the bench, Danehower said. “She can go in there and give us some energy and make some things happen. She helped us get back in the game.”
Putting Up Numbers: Cleveland was led by Hinton with 16 points. Sands had nine and Myrayna Watkins eight. Corinth Holders got 13 points from Price, 12 from Khadijah Neal and 11 from Cyarra Pierson.
What Worked: Danehower said the Rams communicated well on defense throughout the game and did a good job on offense in the second and third periods.
Corinth Holders coach Brandy Smith said the Pirates turned up the pressure on defense in the fourth quarter when they made their comeback and got something going offensively to get to the free throw line. “We got the clock stopped and made some points (at the line) and got back in it.”
What Didn’t Work: The Rams took some bad shots early, Danehower said, and didn’t get the ball inside enough.
Turnovers plagued the Pirates (5-8, 1-2). “When you have 19 turnovers, it’s going to be hard to win a basketball game,” Smith said.
Feeling The Impact: Cleveland will be looking to build on the road win that kept the Rams unbeaten in the league. “We have to keep working on getting more consistent,” Danehower said.
Best Quote: “I wish we had about 20 more seconds,” Smith said.